Saturday, July 03, 2010

On knitting up the (perfect) holiday

Today I found myself tidying up my yarn stash, specifically a drawer full of small balls of leftover yarn, in many colors and varying amounts. I was quickly caught up in a haze of creative contemplating. (Washcloth? Cat toy? Bookmark??)

I love little bits of leftover yarn. They don't have a specified purpose, like the yarn I bought to knit a sweater or sock yarn for, well, socks. Instead the little leftover bits are Free Agents, open to drafting by whichever team finds them useful. (Crazy scarf? Afghan square? Hat??)

Without a specified purpose for this yarn, I feel much less pressure. There are fewer expectations for the unassigned scraps. The receipt for their purchase is long gone, so cost is rarely a consideration. Making a mistake with this yarn is not an earth-shattering possibility. Instead, it is a relaxing, yet energizing thing to hang out with them. (Me: "Ya wanna go get some coffee?" The yarn: "Sure, why not?")

The Yarn With Purpose intimidates me somehow. It has Plans, it has its Destination keyed into its GPS, it knows who it wants to hang out with when it gets to where it's going. There are few margins in the life of Yarn With Purpose. (Me: "Ya wanna go get some coffee?" Yarn With Purpose: "Can't. Too busy." Me: "Oh. Well, OK.")

Now there are those knitters who will take Yarn With Purpose and let it know who's boss, changing the original Plan to something else, and doing it without a backward glance or the slightest twinge of guilt. I envy these people their ability to own the yarn instead of letting the yarn own them. I don't understand them, but I envy them. My own capacity for such behavior is relatively nil.

Maybe it's human nature to gravitate towards the things that make us happiest, or maybe it's laziness to take the path of least resistance.

It's a lot like holidays. We have found at our house that the holidays that are the least trouble, those with the fewest expectations and the most fun, are the ones we like the best. The holidays that are more margin and less pressure. When the day rolls around and the family can just enjoy itself, without having to act a certain way or follow a pre-arranged set of rituals, that is what makes a memorable holiday experience.

Since tomorrow is Independence Day, I'm going to remember this and pretend we are constructing our day from leftover bits of yarn, in many colors and varying amounts, without the pressure to create a perfect holiday sweater. I'm not even going to knit a gauge swatch for the day. Happy Fourth, Everyone!